News Posts are dedicated to bringing you some of the latest news in education from around the world. Each week you’ll be able to read a summary of the news articles and read the ones that interest you in full.

This week’s news post brings some interesting articles on reading. They range from looking at how we can bond with our children through reading, to the importance of school libraries, to a significant minority of lost girls, who face real difficulties with reading.

1. We are blind to the silent army of lost girls who struggle with reading

(Source: The Telegraph, by Greg Watson, November 2016)

Regarding literacy, we have long been aware that girls outperform boys. And the trend hasn’t been confined to a few countries, but worldwide, (as seen in the PISA rankings – although the gap has narrowed in the last six years).

This article is interesting from the standpoint of highlighting the fact that a significant minority of girls also face serious struggles with reading; but are a minority that tend to be overlooked.

What’s the story?

Assessment data from the Telegraph looked at 60,000 ten and twelve year olds in England and Wales. Eleven percent of ten year-olds and twelve percent of twelve year-olds had major literacy problems and difficulty with some aspect of reading.

The picture was worse for boys, but this trend has led to a simplification of the differences between the genders and as such, an injustice for the girls that do struggle. One of the leading contributory factors is thought to be cultural. When aspirations are low for girls, they show the same problem as boys in the same numbers.

In addition, part of the reason why these girls have been overlooked is linked to behaviour differences. Boys tend to command more attention from teaching professionals, but, as the author points out, it’s not a reason to overlook the girls who are equally struggling.

2. How to bond with your child through reading

(Source: The Telegraph by Peter Fonagy, November 2016)

My joy of reading stories from the moment I learnt to read to now, has never diminished. Buying a book still fills me with that childhood delight; and now as a mother, I can extend that joy to my daughter. This article, is a good reminder of just how important reading to our children is, and its benefits proven time and time again.

What’s the story?

Parents interact with their children in several ways which serve to strengthen bonds. One activity that can support these interactions, (especially for parents who may struggle in this area), is book sharing.

Research has consistently showed that reading for pleasure with your child can improve language development, the ability to focus, as well as social and emotional outcomes.

Studies in South Africa carried out in a deprived township community, showed the differences in 18 month old infants whose parents were trained in sharing books with them. The infants demonstrated increased vocabulary, were better at focusing and displayed care for others. These findings have also been shown in other countries and in older children.

In addition to helping establish strong bonds between parents and their children, reading for pleasure has also demonstrated other valuable benefits when it comes to schooling:

The value of reading for pleasure is shown in the fact that children who do so end up doing significantly better at school – it has a stronger effect on scholastic performance than parental education level.

Children who are read to on a regular basis at the age of five also perform much better at spelling, vocabulary and maths tests at the age of sixteen.

3. Look at libraries over league tables when choosing a school

(Source: The Telegraph by Nigel Lashbrook, November 2016)

I can’t imagine a school without a library, and yet in the UK at least, we seem to be heading towards library-less schools. This article by headteacher, Nigel Lashbrook, is one such person who seems to agree. His article is particularly interesting as it highlights how research has made a positive link between how developed the school library is and the academic success of its students.

What’s the story?

C. Riddell, along with eight former children’s laureates, have penned an open letter to the Secretary of State for Education, calling for an investigation into the closure of school libraries.

Lashbrook argues that school libraries are crucial to our children’s future. Studies have shown that the level of development of a school’s library is a very accurate predictor of academic success.

He goes on to argue the important role played by librarians with regard to introducing children of all reading abilities, to a variety of authors and genres. The library itself also has an important function in serving as a, hub for students to use in their quest for knowledge. They promote independent learning skills and help children to access data and knowledge:

Libraries and librarians should be central in helping pupils understand how to access data or knowledge, for their studies or interests – regardless of whether this is from a book, an online resource or a journal.

Did you enjoy these articles? Would you like to see more articles in these posts? Is there an area that you are particularly interested in reading about? If so, please leave a comment with your feedback in the comments section below.